The Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor took place December 7, 1941. To commemorate the 80th anniversary of those attacks, the National WWII Museum in New Orleans has opened a new exhibit, called Infamy: Pearl Harbor Remembered.
“This exhibit provides a compelling look at the political climate leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor and then focuses on how it was remembered, rather than concentrating on the detailed events of the attack already highlighted in our permanent displays,” explains Tom Czekanski, exhibit curator and senior curator and restorations manager at the National WWII Museum.
The Pearl Harbor Attacks
On November 26, 1941, the Japanese Imperial Navy ordered an armada of six aircraft carriers with 414 planes to sail for Hawaii. To maintain secrecy and surprise, the ships maintained radio silence throughout their 3,500-mile trip to a launch sector 230 miles north of the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
Then, at 6 a.m. on Sunday, December 7, a wave of Japanese aircraft lifted off from the carriers. A second wave of aircraft lifted off one hour later.
The Japanese began attacking the U.S. Pacific Fleet a few minutes before 8 a.m. Those attacks, which resulted in the United States’ Declaration of War on Japan and led the country into World War II, killed more than 2,400 service members. In less than 90 minutes, the Japanese planes also destroyed or damaged 19 U.S. warships and 300 aircraft.
Remembering Pearl Harbor
“No moment in the history of the United States casts a longer shadow than Pearl Harbor,” Robert Citino, Ph.D., the Samuel Zemurray Stone Senior Historian in the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy, explains in an article for the National WWII Museum. “‘Remembering’ it has become a national imperative, a patriotic duty for the American people, and reminding us of that duty has become a ritual of media and political discourse — repeated so often and in so many ways that it’s become part of the routine of our communal life. You might say, even 80 years after the fact, Pearl Harbor is still a national obsession.”
Infamy: Pearl Harbor Remembered is on display through June 26, 2022. Here’s how the exhibit will “explore the events leading up to Pearl Harbor and what the ‘date which will live in infamy” means: “Infamy will utilize artifacts, images, oral histories, and video productions to examine not just the events and results of the devastating attack, but also the way it was remembered during the war — and since,” the National WWII Museum explains. “The hope is that, after experiencing the exhibit, visitors will both reflect on the events personally and take away new insights regarding a pivotal moment that many believe they have a full understanding of already.”
The artifacts include a fragment of the USS Arizona, assorted “Remember Pearl Harbor” sweetheart jewelry, posters, and an M1921 Browning water-cooled machine gun that is similar to the one famously used by Officer’s Cook 3rd Class Dorie Miller aboard the USS West Virginia. The exhibit also features story panels to relay the experiences of lieutenants, messmen, chaplains, medical personnel, and other service members as well as civilians who were at Pearl Harbor during the attacks.
December 7, 2021
Infamy is part of the museum’s educational initiatives to commemorate the Pearl Harbor 80th Anniversary.
As you’d expect, there will be a full day of programming on December 7, 2021, including the museum’s Pearl Harbor 80th Anniversary Commemorative Ceremony. You can learn more about all the programming here.
Know Before You Go
Infamy: Pearl Harbor Remembered is on display through June 26, 2022. If you plan to visit the exhibit, you’ll need to keep in mind that, following guidelines from the City of New Orleans, everyone visiting the museum will be required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination upon arrival or a negative result from a PCR/antigen test taken within 72 hours of arrival at the museum. When not actively eating, drinking, or speaking as a formal presenter, everyone will be encouraged to wear a mask while inside the museum.
You can learn more about the National WWII Museum and its Infamy: Pearl Harbor Remembered exhibit here. Find all of our History and Culture coverage here and, if you’re trip planning, check out our New Orleans content here.